Tag Archives: Wrestling

Shock Master, Zombies, and More! Awesomely Odd WWE Wrestling Figures

Nowhere other than maybe reality TV shows, soap operas or Japanese television will you find a more strange, bizarre, unreal and just plain brilliant form of entertainment than professional wrestling.

In wrestling anything is fair game and taboos are there to be broken, and they frequently are.

Continue reading Shock Master, Zombies, and More! Awesomely Odd WWE Wrestling Figures

Advertisements

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 4/29/13

Tonight’s Raw opens up nearly immediately with a strange match between Ricardo Rodriguez, Zeb Colter and Big E Langston, which is strange for a multitude of reasons. The main one being that I feel like I missed something from an episode of Smackdown as to the particular reason this matchup even happened in the first place, or perhaps I missed something from last Raw. All I know is that it’s a No DQ match that involved the managers of the usual wrestlers, and the no DQ part never came into play until the end. So really, it was utterly bizarre.

This is the kind of match where the odds are so obviously stacked towards Big E, that the entire time I was watching it I kept expecting something to distract him so one of the “non-wrestlers” could steal a win. Sure enough that’s what happened, and I expected Zeb Colter to win, but it turned out to be Ricardo. I’m glad, because I really like Ricardo Rodriguez and seeing him happy always makes me happy. He has the mod infectious smile! Ahem. Yes and the good part is that Alberto Del Rio got to use this win to make the stipulation for the Triple Threat match between him, Ziggler and Swagger, and made it a ladder match. Ladder matches are never boring, so that’ll be interesting to see eventually.

Racist Zeb Colter doesn't approve.
Racist Zeb Colter doesn’t approve.

Aw jesus. This is the exact sort of thing that gets me all riled up. How do you boo a man who’s basically making 3 little sick kids dreams come true? That’s the line between being a smark and just being a stupid asshole. I may not always like John Cena’s character, but he makes hundreds of children’s dreams come true and for that I always have to respect the man. Now that being said, man do I hate these segments on the show. It’s nice, and good on him for making the kids have a special moment, but they’re just standing there, all three nearly identical, with their identical moms, and god… Is it horrible if I say to pick sick kids with more personality to grant wishes to? Hell, maybe I’d freeze up too if I was put on live television, so I can’t really blame them. I do have to congratulate those kids on their wrestling names, because somehow they picked kinda awesome 80’s style wrestler gimmick names. Including the first kid who even said it in that stereotypical Hulk Hogan style wrestling way, where you breath in really deep and making your voice all raspy and weird. I don’t know how kids these days are even still getting the cues to talk like a stereotypical wrestler, because those stereotypes don’t really exist anymore, but I guess some things never change. Either that or wrestlers from the 80’s accidentally mimicked the natural strange cadence of a young child yelling strangely. Which actually doesn’t sound too far off. All I know is that “Lightnin'” Logan is actually a pretty badass name for a wrestler.

This is the first time in a long time that a match happened on Raw because that was the card, and there was no real storyline reason for it to happen. Ostensibly Raw is supposed to be a wrestling show, with a card that’s pre-made, but every night things go wrong, or the General Managing Managers make on the spot decisions to change the card. Presumably every night on Raw dozens of matches are being bumped every time Triple H comes out to talk about nothing for half an hour, or John Cena get’s CHALLENGED TO MATCH, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW! So to see an actual match just happen with no real provocation or reason, reminded me that Raw is actually supposed to be a normal wrestling show. Most of the time anyway.

What made it more interesting though, was seeing them openly acknowledge continuity by mentioning how Cody Rhodes and Randy Orton used to be in a group called Legacy together, that has since long broken up. It actually added a bit of depth to the match, that was promptly sucked up by the whirlpool of boring and un-charisma that is Randy Orton. Every single time I see Orton in a match, he looks bored. I suppose he’s going for aloof confidence, but it comes off as bored, and it shows. Every match of his is him going through the motions. There are times when I look at him and I can see an interesting character that could be developed, but it’s too difficult when he’s sleepwalking through all of his matches.

And here we finally have an example of a referee finally noticing that the Bella Twins totally are discernible from each other now. Granted they didn’t go on a big thing about one being “larger” than the other like they did last week, but still. “Twin Magic” was never even that viable of a move anyway, because it’s not like the other fresh twin would use her renewed strength and vigor to overcome her tired opponent, she’d just go for a roll up every single time, and somehow this time, the roll up was effective. Basically the other twin could have gone for the roll up and have won on her own, but the magic in twin magic must be that the roll up pin becomes unstoppable? Either that or it’s just horrible, stupid booking meant to purposely sell a bad product in relation to the men’s wrestling? Either or.

This started out as your typical Shield promo, where they talk about their accomplishments, and list who they’re after next, and explain to you something about some vague sense of justice. In the past it was easy and obvious to argue their points for justice, because the guys they were attacking or fighting, despite being fan favorites or faces, were still pretty morally in the wrong. I understand The Shield are bad guys, and while it’s not like their motives are exactly bad per se, they just seem to be going along. You could argue their entire motives are just to disrupt the status quo, and that their entire sense of perceived injustice is based on the way things are now. But when they attacked Undertaker the only explanation they gave is some vague explanation about them not bowing down to anyone. I’m guessing the subtext there is that they believe all institutions should end, and they mean to be a guiding agent through which justice will enact its will. Unfortunately, right around the time they were about to get to the point, 3MB entered.

Hilariously, my prediction about 3MB has come true. They’re now an entirely delusional group of fake rocker/wrestlers who think they’re stronger than they actually are, and attempted to take on The Shield, who promptly stomped their asses into the ground. I like that 3MB really honestly feel under appreciated and overlooked by The Shield, and see themselves as worthy opponents to them. They’re the real underdogs if you think about it. Even more hilarious, Team Hell No came out to ostensibly “save” 3MB from The Shield, but then started beating the crap out of 3MB anyway. JBL said it best when he asked incredulously; “Does EVERYBODY hate 3MB?” It would seem so. Poor 3MB.

No.

I am placing this here instead of actual commentary on the millionth Ziggler/Kingston match.
I am placing this here instead of actual commentary on the millionth Ziggler/Kingston match. Because.

Here’s where I have to admit I’m a huge homo for story lines like this. Firstly, I’m just glad there’s some semblance of a women’s storyline now, and furthermore that it’s a secret admirer storyline. If you’ve been paying attention, it’s been obvious Cody Rhodes has had feelings for Kaitlyn for the past few weeks, and frankly I like a little romance story here and there, and this kind of romance story hasn’t been done in the WWE for a long time. My only issue is that Kaitlyn’s secret admirer bought her a creepy leather daddy hat, and even creepier she actually really liked it. I’ll refrain from going into the implications of what that means if Cody Rhodes bought it for her, (think Goldust and you’ll get it) but it’s a nice enough gesture. Then again there’s always the possibility it’s some retarded reveal like Hornswoggle and oh god the thought of that just depresses the hell out of me. Please let that not be the case. Hornswoggle is the worst. THE WORST.

You deserve better than Hornswoggle, Kaitlyn.
You deserve better than Hornswoggle, Kaitlyn.

I guess Zack Ryder is no longer taking care, or spiking his hair. Which is fine by me, because he looks slightly less like a douchebag, but only slightly. I’ve heard rumors he’s been trying to change his gimmick, and they really ought to have him do that Bob Backlund style broken man gimmick I proposed last week. Let’s have him start obsessively talking about Long Island, and Iced Z, all the while beating the crap out of people and claiming they’re joining his team in the “Zack Pack”. Have him release new videos online that are weird, avante garde min-Herzog films, and eventually have him come out wearing giant bear suits or painted entirely black or something. A terrifying, Herzog wrestler with no sense of reality who only believes in chaos and the nihilistic reality of Monday Night Raw is a better one than the one he has now. Every week I see him and until I see Zack Ryder do something interesting, I’m going to suggest better, alternative gimmicks for him, because this one is so tired and awful it’s nigh unbearable.

First off, why is this on my wrestling show? Or even my Sport Entertainment show? Regardless, it’s not like they haven’t done this before. And with more people against Mark Henry, and Mark Henry still won. I don’t care how fat you are or how much you can dance, you’re still not going to be stronger than 6 guys, which Mark Henry WAS, because he’s the WORLD’S STRONGEST MAN. That’s his thing! THAT’S WHAT HE DOES! It’s also all he knows. Jesus guys, please make existential crisis Mark Henry an actual thing? Please have him smash people through tables and yell “THAT’S ALL I KNOW!” in exasperated confusion and dismay! Have him do anything other than pretend to lose to Sheamus in a tug of war contest for a minute, before inevitably beating him because he’s Mark F’N Henry. Pleeease.

Hey look! Some great wrestling between two of your most talented guys! Why not give this match some meaning and stakes? Oh no? Just another match with Cesaro losing, because he’s being buried for some reason? I understand that some wrestlers just have to lose eventually, because by their nature everyone can’t be pushed all the time, but they’ve been doing a pretty terrible job at utilizing Antonio Cesaro lately, when he’s such a damned amazing talent. The fact is they had him lose to Kofi Kingston, which is really the worst insult I think you could give as a booker. There’s no way they could have looked at Cesaro, saw his gimmick, ability, mic skills and everything else and thought of no better way to wrap up his storyline with the US title than to lose it to Kofi. I’m glad Cesaro is still around and visible, because at least he’s not relegated to Main Event/Superstars purgatory. Not yet anyway, because he does have a match with Kofi on Main Event next week. As long as we’re still seeing Cesaro there’s the chance he’ll get another chance to do something interesting. I don’t care if he gets another title shot, I just want him to be active and in a storyline of some sort.

What? What is this? Why is this on my WRESTLING SHOW? WHY IS THIS ON A SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT SHOW?! Ok, I like Fandango, but good lord man. If this is what you’re bringing to the table, take it back. I like you when you’re a psychotic flamenco dancer who insists people say his name correctly, and will violently destroy anyone who says his name wrong. I don’t like you when you’re this weird, pandering sycophant to the legions of people singing your theme song. I do like you attacking Great Khali though, and I especially think you’ve mastered the top rope leg drop, because holy HELL.

Fandango-Leg DropFandango-Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s see more of that in-ring skill Fandango. Leg drop more dudes, then dance on their graves and tell them how to say your name again. I know you’re talented at wrestling, so let’s see you show everyone how to Fandango.

How many times and in how many different ways can I say The Shield are the most effective and superior team in the WWE right now? They consistently game plan, work as a team, use strategy to their benefit and pick up wins. They’ve cracked the code of how to beat nearly any team, and unsurprisingly that’s to work together. On top of that, it seems that Roman Reign’s Spear finisher is effectively the strongest finishing move of them all, because it’s taken down every single one of the typically invincible characters in the WWE, and that includes the Undertaker! Pinning John Cena clean is also nearly impossible, so it goes without saying that Roman Reign’s spear must be like getting hit by a goddamned car. Which is unfortunate, because it looks like he’s just hugging you aggressively. But I digress, because watching The Shield win again, and seeing Raw end with new eeeeeevil The Ryback standing there, was a good enough ending to a good enough Raw.

C'mon The Ryback, you're standing there dressed like you're in Aces & Eights and you've got a Team Rocket beanie on. Go home.
C’mon The Ryback, you’re standing there dressed like you’re in Aces & Eights and you’ve got a Team Rocket beanie on. Go home.

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 04/15/13

Tonight’s Monday Night Raw opens with the currently most boring storyline/feud they have developing currently, which is the whole debacle with Sheamus, Randy Orton and Big Show. Granted I will always prefer it every time Raw opens up with actual wrestling, but with the exception of Big Show these guys are this weird whirling dervish of boring that feeds itself on an infinite loop. They’re pretty much just doing the same match over and over with these guys and they’ll keep hoping we don’t notice, but people definitely are. Make Randy Orton interesting, or have Sheamus become a good guy who’s actually good, and maybe I’d like them. Between the three of them, Sheamus and Big Show still can pull out some interesting spots, particularly like Sheamus putting Big Show in the electric chair drop, which is always damned impressive. I guess really my problems are all Randy Orton related, when they could be fixed so easily by just making him a brooding psychopath. Creepy stalker-always-behind-you Randy Orton is better than whatever-he-is-right-now Randy Orton. Plus he still needs to learn how to do his finisher properly.

So here’s two things I hate, a hilarious group of semi-talented wrestlers (Jinder Mahal is still weak sauce), coming out to just be beaten down by a higher profile “celebrity” wrestler, (which is all Brock Lesnar is now), and of course, Brock Lesnar himself. Who as I’ve said time and time again, is the worst possible thing to happen to any Raw. Just as soon as I think he’s going to go away again forever, he shows up and makes yet another month-long series of threats and stupid challenges to Triple H, that’ll result in the two of them taking months to respond to each other in boring promos that end in a mediocre, predictable match with no real stakes. It is the worst thing you guys. I’m so sick of it that not even Paul Heyman, who I love, can get me excited for a damned steel cage match. Not even by referring indirectly to ECW with his carefully stressed use of the word “Extreme”. It’s a shame because Heyman is so great, and Lesnar is so boring and dumb. I understand Lesnar can’t cut a promo for shit so they do this but holy hell. Let’s get it together please.

Ugh. Ok, so personal biases aside, at the very least this match ended in an exciting way. I liked the idea of seeing Cesaro as really difficult to beat, and someone overcoming the great odds to beat him. The only problem is Cesaro loses all the time because of the weird class system they have in the WWE. I also have a weird problem with Kofi KINGSTON from Ghana or Jamaica as his character or music would have us believe, telling us he brought the US Title back home. By his logic, Cesaro is just as American as he is and the title wasn’t really brought back to anywhere. What’s even more infuriating is they mention how he’s un-american as the reason he would be able to allegedly beat Cesaro, but still credit him as American when he does win? IS HE AMERICAN OR IS HE NOT? IF HE’S NOT, CAN WE HAVE JACK SWAGGER JUST- oh wait that’d be really REALLY racist never mind. Nevermind what I was just about to say.

Kofi sucks okay? Butts.

This is one of those things I always thought was a long time coming, because back when Swagger and Ziggler were both managed by Vickie, I always thought they were due for a proper tag team breakup/feud. A staple in the wrestling story collection, but a good one. Then Swagger disappeared for a year and came back racist, and meanwhile Ziggler really firmly established himself as a dominant singles competitor. Enough so that he continually gets cheered despite being a bad guy, and they must have him come out like tonight and make a big typical anti-audience, “you people” style promo to keep him “hated”. Granted I’d love to see Ziggler as a good guy, but I can’t imagine his current character working that well as a face, and a character change for him would be a big gamble. I like where he’s at right now though, so I wouldn’t be able to think of anything for him to do other than make a generic heel promo as well. I’m just interested to see if they’ll build on the fertile groundwork that’s clearly been laid between Swagger/Ziggler and Vickie. It could result in a really good storyline between two former friends, their estranged weird “double” girlfriend, (or whatever they were for Vickie other than clients she managed), and their respective new places in their WWE careers. Alberto Del Rio just needs to take some time to cool off and fight some other racists or just spend some time with Ricardo relaxing. How great would it be if they cut to a segment of Ricardo and ADR just chilling, watching tv together for a minute or so? Maybe making some fajitas or something? I don’t know. Those two have been through so much I just want to see them be ok for a minute alright?

This is the entire tag team division now. This is pathetic. At this rate we’re going to see the PTP wrestle Team Hell No at least half as many times as Kofi Kingston has wrestled Dolph Ziggler, and that’s approaching an infinite amount. There’s nothing new to say about this match because it’s literally exactly the same as all their other matches. So.

Daniel Bryan should trim his beard. THERE I SAID IT.

There’s a lot of things I like about this promo. I like the stifled, ostentatious breathing The Ryback keeps making. I like how it was edited, as if The Ryback really took the time to sit down, address every point that could have been brought up against him, went through some back catalog tapes and edited in the right clips to help illustrate his point. Furthermore, like nearly every heel in the WWE, his point is a good one: John Cena only really has the back of John Cena. That’s Cena’s character in a nutshell really. He’s always been a hypocritical schmuck of a good guy, and with The Ryback pointing this out he’s of course suddenly a heel now, instead of just being an observant human being who believes in calling people out on their faults. I suppose you could argue it was pretty lousy of him to attack his friend first, before talking about it, but this is wrestling where emotions are communicated physically first. The Ryback’s heartbreak is palpable in this, because it’s obvious he really was looking for Cena to back him up, and it’s just another case of Cena not living up to his credo of hustle, loyalty and respect. If they’re building Cena up as the unstoppable-Terminator Cena, who’ll sacrifice everything in his way in the endless pursuit of victory, and The Ryback as his antithesis, then I’m all for it. Let them be fire and ice, scylla and charybdis, and just clash as the two top WWE strongmen.

Not a fan of “Ryback Rules” as a catchphrase though. It’s pretty uncreative, but that does sound like something The Ryback would come up with.

WHAT THE HELL WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING? SO SUDDENLY EVEN R-TRUTH IS ABOVE THE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE WHY? WHY DO THEY WANT THE DEVALUE THIS TITLE SO BADLY THAT HAVING IT MEANS NOTHING AT ALL I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT!? WADE BARRETT HAD SUCH A DEFINITIVE, AMAZING MATCH AGAINST THE MIZ LAST WEEK WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU ARE USING HIM WRONG WHAT THE F***ING F***! THIS IS BULLS***.

Oh just f*** this match. Of course Team Rhodes Scholars win. This is terrible.

whobookedthiscrap

I’m as glad as anybody that Fandango is super popular right now, but unfortunately the shelf life of his character isn’t very long. Not in the way they’re going. I’m afraid he’s going to become another Funkasaurus, and eventually the WWE will become burnt out on him and have no idea what to do with him and in a few weeks he’ll become the Intercontinental Champion and just keep losing forever until he has to defend his title and then he’ll win in a roll up again. Then eventually he’ll lose the title to goddamned Santino or some crap. I don’t know. Please don’t wait Johnny Curtis WWE, he’s really talented. Jesus.

Thankfully it seems like they are using some of the bedrock of the Swagger/Ziggler past relationship to build up some of the context for this match. Surprisingly they had Ziggler lose, but in this particular case it’s not because of some weird class system like it is with the mid-card championships, it’s because they’ve built up Swagger and want to portray him as a legitimate threat to all non-mexican peoples. For the majority of the match it was pretty balanced, and it ending with ADR interference post match was easily predicted. I’m just hoping they’ll focus more on Swagger and Ziggler, because that’s by far the more interesting storyline. Any time you can incorporate story lines about friendships, betrayal, communication and the dissolution of friendships in wrestling, I’m a fan. I eat that kind of shit up. It’s why I like stupid drama for girls and whenever it’s in my wrestling it gets right to my heart-strings. It’s typical soap opera stuff, but dammit that’s what wrestling IS.

I know in real life this is an explanation for Punk to go away for a while and let his knees heal, which in the past few months have really taken a beating. That’s fine, but I’m more interested in where this promo paints Punk’s character. Particularly how it falls right about where I predicted his character would eventually end up, a few months ago:

The dichotomy for Punk is that he truly does believe he’s the best in the world, but won’t directly admit to himself that he couldn’t beat The Ryback. Him coming out to say he’s the best gets derision from the audience, who see him as your typical cowardly heel, and on face value they’re right. That is the first layer of the card he was/is playing, but the deeper part is a man who has backed himself into a corner, burned all the bridges he has except Heyman’s, and is too proud to admit his wrongs and finds his only vindication is keeping the WWE Title. Unlike any other wrestlers motivation for being the champion, (Because I want it!), Punk’s is based around the necessity to keep his worldview consistent, to prove to himself every choice he’s made is the correct one, and to hold onto that notion of pride he’s so keen on keeping. He’s doing it in the most jerk face way possible sure, but that’s what gives his character relatable. Who of you hasn’t made the wrong decision, been too proud to admit it could be wrong, and then denied it and held onto one concrete thing to convince yourself it was true?

It’s essentially setting up Punk as a tragic figure, and if he was to ever go face again, they’d be very dumb to miss out on the opportunity to seize it. In my mind CM Punk has one more promo in him that will singlehandedly change the landscape of the WWE, and that’s the “I was wrong, but so were you” promo. I have dreams he’ll make that promo, and if that day ever comes you can bet I’ll be linking back to this specific article and pointing out just how right I was to every single wrestling fan I know. All 5. (Not many people I know like wrestling).

First and foremost, it feels REALLY good to be right. Punk’s promo tonight was basically echoing what I said in its subtext. He’s the kind of person always looking to move forward, and now that he’s unable to aspire to anything greater, he’s lost himself. He’s burned every bridge there was, and it looks like potentially he could have even burned his bridge with Heyman, but we’ll only see how that turns out in due time. This is the first part of the big set up for him to come back face, because 2 things are a given:

1.) Punk will come back to BOOMING cheers.

2.) Whatever he says when he does will be THE MOST IMPORTANT to developing his character’s arc. I would love to see him evolve and grow, but I would also enjoy seeing him sink into the depths and pits of despair, and become completely, absolutely corrupt and reprehensible. Either way, when he comes back it’s going to be exciting.

Hey! Women’s wrestling! I like it when women wrestle. Who wouldn’t? Women’s wrestling is great and there should be more of it, and not only for lecherous reasons, but because there are tons of talented, strong women athletes out there who deserve the chance to show off their skills.

That being said, HOLY SHIT YOU CAN’T JUST PRETEND LIKE THE BELLAS ARE IDENTICAL ANYMORE THEY’RE VERY OBVIOUSLY DIFFERENT LOOKING, BECAUSE ONE HAS GIANT FAKE TITS NOW WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!

Normally I hate any kind of commentary Jerry Lawler makes on women, but the banter between him, Cole and JBL about one twin being “Larger” was actually pretty funny, if wholly offensive and weird. It really only drew attention to how stupid the entire idea behind the Bella’s using “Twin Magic” to win is as a game strategy, and continues to weaken and degrade the women’s division in the WWE somehow even more than it already is. It’s a damned shame.

Then John Cena starts his John Cena thing by calling out The Ryback (and actually calls him The Ryback!), and they do their little huffy puffy stare down thing. It was a fairly typical strongman stare down that was thankfully interrupted by The Shield, who I’m still convinced are just three greased up bros who hang out together and watch the show, then decide to attack whoever annoys them at the moment. This time it happened to be John Cena. Then The Ryback stares on as The Shield murder John Cena and do a TRIPLE FIST BUMP in the ring, standing triumphantly. There’s not much to really speculate about this ending because it’s pretty clear. The Shield are a force to be reckoned with who have no clear agenda, John Cena will keep betraying anything and everyone in his path to achieve his impossible dreams of success, (and in turn represent the opposite side of the coin that Punk is, I still think hey have another really good feud against each other in the works), and The Ryback will eventually become champion one day or another, and potentially be unstoppable? That is until Mark Henry shows up and eats him. Literally eats him alive. An ironic death for The Ryback, no?

Roman Reigns - WWE Universe
Roman Reigns – WWE Universe

An Essay on Superhero Comics & Wrestling

There are two distinct types of fandom I believe that share a kinship of sorts, in that they’re both inherently similar, attract the same sense of nostalgia and passion, and occasionally the same sort of ostracism from mainstream groups of non-fans. These two groups of fandom are mainstream Superhero comics fans and Professional Wrestling fans. While at first glance these two things couldn’t seem more disconcordant, there are actually many similarities at the base of their respective art forms.

Modern Superhero comics are an expression of idealism, and a way to communicate stories that can’t really be told in any other medium similarly. Whether these stories are meant to be experiences that are carried out vicariously through the character, or to establish a connection with a series of characters, the fact remains the same that these stories are and always have been about romanticized, idealized versions of characters that are larger than life. They’re bombastic, exaggerated, and are symbols more often than not of things we can aspire to be, or things to beware of and fear. These stories have been told for a long time, as myths of Gods and Demi-Gods, but are now represented as costumed, superpowered heroes who fight crime or the ills of society. They’re representatives of justice who are overcoming the odds they face against the villains, be they environmental, internal, or external. They’re here to right wrongs, teach lessons through example, or to serve as wish fulfillment for the reader.

Superhero
Hogan Pic from America F-Yeah

The characters in wrestling have this exact same dynamic. They’re there to  tell stories that are larger than life. They communicate the basic system of justice, wish fulfillment, and a moral lesson imparted via the action that happens in ring, both meta-textual and literal through the exploration of these themes. Watching Batman beat up the bad guy is fun in a comic book, in the same way that watching Stone Cold Steve Austin put his stunner on a villain wrestler in the ring is. At that base level they’re both providing a sense of justice imparted against the villain in that story being told, be it either on the page, or in a ring.

By that same token they’re both exaggerated characters who couldn’t, shouldn’t, and don’t really exist in real life, instead legitimately existing only within the contextual realities of their worlds. In the same way that a Batman would immediately get arrested and thrown into an asylum (a theme that’s often been explored in Batman comics), Steve Austin would have been fired, arrested, and put into jail for the many attempts at assault and battery, home invasion, reckless endangerment and what have you. Yet another theme that’s actually happened multiple times in wrestling, is a character being “punished” for their in ring activity with real world consequences, despite all of it still being inherently part of the story.

Superhero

Roland Barthes was a famous literature critic and philosopher who wrote an essay about wrestling called “The World Of Wrestling”, in his book Mythologies, an exposition on modern mythologies and the undercurrent themes behind them. In it he writes:

[box_light]“But what wrestling is above all meant to portray is a purely moral concept: that of justice. The idea of ‘paying’ is essential to wrestling, and the crowd’s ‘Give it to him’ means above all else ‘Make him pay.’ This is therefore, needless to say, an immanent justice. The baser the action of the ‘bastard,’ the more delighted the public is by the blow which he justly receives in return. If the villain – who is of course a coward – takes refuge behind the ropes, claiming unfairly to have a right to do so by a brazen mimicry, he is inexorably pursued there and caught, and the crowd is jubilant at seeing the rules broken for the sake of a deserved punishment. [. . .] Naturally, it is the pattern of Justice which matters here, much more than its content: wrestling is above all a quantitative sequence of compensations (an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth). This explains why sudden changes of circumstances have in the eyes of wrestling habitueés a sort of moral beauty; they enjoy them as they would enjoy an inspired episode in a novel…”

“The virtue of all-in wrestling is that it is the spectacle of excess. Here we find a grandiloquence which must have been that of ancient theatres. And in fact wrestling is an open-air spectacle, for what makes the circus or the arena what they are is not the sky (a romantic value suited rather to fashionable occasions), it is the drenching and vertical quality of the flood of light. Even hidden in the most squalid Parisian halls, wrestling partakes of the nature of the great solar spectacles, Greek drama and bullfights: in both, a light without shadow generates an emotion without reserve.”[/box_light]

This is the same for comics in turn. Here we are watching a spectacle on the page as the Justice League fights Darkseid on the open streets, or the Avengers take umbrage against the legions of Skrulls who have invaded (it’s been a while since I’ve read Marvel), and the entire time this spectacle is communicated on a never-ending regular basis. Wrestling is a constant stage of stories being told, involving a rotating cast of characters who over the course of years grow, develop, change, become bad or become good, and eventually “die” as their real life counterparts, the actual wrestler as opposed to the character wrestler, retire.

Superhero

In comics, these characters never “die”, as any comics fan can attest to. Any “death” is merely a means to an end for further character development, and is almost always retconned given enough length on any timeline. The same is once again true for wrestling, as multiple characters have “died” either literally in the story, literally in life, or figuratively by leaving the company. In 1996 one of the most famous wrestlers for the then WWF was Razor Ramon, a character based highly off of Tony Montana from Brian De Palma’s Scarface, and a wrestler who captivated audiences with his signature look, mannerisms, speech and style. In real life, he ended up leaving the WWF, not taking the “Razor Ramon” character with him, and showed up on then rival wrestling promotion WCW as “Scott Hall”, his real name, but still the same character, albeit in plain clothes. In this manner his death was merely “retconned”, but in real life to another wrestling promotion. To make things even more similar to comics, WWF responded by simply casting another wrestler as the “new” Razor Ramon, who debuted to a major outpouring of fan hatred. Comics have done this countless times, most notably with Robin, Batman’s sidekick. It’s the only two mediums that have ever done this in this fashion, with any sense of regularity. It’s a dichotomy that exists with many examples, one being the death and resurrection of Superman, which is paralleled in turn by the multiple deaths and resurrection of famed wrestler, The Undertaker.

Superhero

Furthermore, the serialized nature of both Superhero comics and professional wrestling, as I previously mentioned, is nearly identical. No two mediums share a similar amount of dissonance between the creator, writers, performer, and creative output. With comics, the story isn’t always told as we think it is by a man who writes and a man who draws, much like with wrestling the story isn’t only told by two men in tights who enter a ring to fight. There’s a committee or a gathering to create a consensus of how to best manage these characters, to tell stories that can be spun indefinitely, while still providing satisfying character arcs. Often this is the issue that both professional wrestling and comics run in to, what with the constant disconnect from what has been previously established, what is truly considered “canon”, and what is suddenly decided to be ignored and/or retconned out of history.

DC Comics has done this most famously and recently by entirely re-establishing a status quo, by erasing the entirety of their old history (except for the stuff that they didn’t) and starting over. While this approach hasn’t been directly emulated by professional wrestling yet, its parallel is similar to the creation of a new promotion based off of new interpretations of older wrestling characters that previously existed. In our modern state, this is TNA Wrestling, a promotion that competes weekly with WWE, yet mainly banks on the star appeal of its talent that became famous in other, more popular past promotions. It is in essence a “reboot” of all those wrestlers from other promotions, to start over with new characters, or a revamped version of their old characters, essentially creating a similar version of DC’s New 52, albeit unintentionally. It’s a correlation that some may find a stretch, but to look at the repackaging, and re-designing of a wrestling character, and to not compare it the repackaging and re-designing of a superhero character to me would be willfully ignoring that similarity.

Superhero

There’s also the case that both comics and professional wrestling have distinct, and iconic “eras” or ages. In superhero comics we have the Golden, Silver, Bronze and Modern eras, all respectively dividing up distinct portrayals of these heroic characters in ways that reflected the zeitgeist. Wrestling has its own set of eras, divided up in into similar labels; Golden Era (which is pre-Hulk Hogan), The New Generation Era (where now legendary wrestlers like Undertaker, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels rose to prominence), and The Attitude Era, which is arguably the highpoint in professional wrestling’s history as the WWF became very popular with the advent of wrestlers like The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin portraying anti-heroes in their medium in a new and exciting way. This was followed by the “Ruthless Aggression” Era, which is an era that developed in the midst of a massive double down between the two main competing wrestling promotions at the time, WWF & WCW, with WCW merging into WWF. At the time this was unheard of, and the comic equivalent would be Marvel buying DC outright, and every single superhero from both companies were then poorly implemented into a series of comics that dovetailed creatively, despite immense potential. Lastly and currently there’s the PG Era of wrestling, where focus has shifted recently into a more family friendly orientation. These Eras in both mediums illustrate further how similar they are, and shows how their lasting serialized nature necessitates being broken up into Eras, in order to better keep track of how they both reflect society, attitudes, and current events at the time.

The problem is, people see the vast majority of it as dumb or meaningless, and write it off as time wasted. Recently this has started to change due to the popularity of Marvel’s recent movie paradigm, but unfortunately I don’t see this changing in a similar fashion for professional wrestling. However, the dichotomy still exists, as in both forms of entertainment we’re watching the same old stories, those mythological Gods and Demi-Gods fighting for a sense of justice, combating moral relativism, and showing us who we are through storytelling. They are the only two mediums that do it in the way they do, and if you’re a fan of one, you should give the other a try. I implore you.

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 3/11/13

Raw opens tonight with a rather well-edited real life memorial to William Moody, AKA Paul Beater, who unfortunately passed away last week. Seeing a bunch of old WWE clips of him acting all goofy and creepy stirred up a lot of fond memories. I distinctly remember him being one of the most engaging manager characters of them all, and was probably my favorite manager character of all time, second to Jimmy Hart. His dedication was followed by Undertaker taking a meaningful pose of respect and grievance in front of the urn that Paul Bearer always carried, while a memorial card for him flashed on the titan-tron. Then a brilliant, terrible thing happened, as CM Punk interrupted it.

I know this pissed off a lot of people, but it’s something wrestling does best. I love it when they purposely mix real life events with kayfabe feuds like this, and use it to build heat. Making CM Punk the most disrespectful, terrible and offensive man is pretty great, and goes a long way towards making him an actual bad guy. On top of that, it gives a better reason and some meaning behind the match Punk and Taker will be having at Wrestlemania.

One of the best things I like about The Shield, is that they beat everyone they oppose, not by cheating, but by just being better than their opponents. Consistently they just isolate the weaknesses of their opponents, exploit them, and use their numbers smartly to gain the advantage. While I was interested in seeing how someone like Seth Rollins would go up against someone like Big Show on his own tonight, Show ruined it for himself by unnecessarily attacking the other two members of The Shield. They defended themselves, then retaliated after the match to show superiority and dominance. It’s the sort of thing that consistently spells them out to be a heavy contender to be reckoned with. I have no doubt that separate they wouldn’t be as effective (Ambrose aside), so I’m still enjoying them as a team. Whenever they do end up splitting up, or even if they just start wrestling more individually, I’ll be looking forward to see how or if their team dynamic changes. I think the only thing that will stop The Shield is themselves, and it’s a good old tried and true angle to run for factions. Until then, watching them triple power bomb giant dudes is good enough for me.

Man, I’m not sure exactly when it happened, because it happened so gradually, but Daniel Bryan really has gone into full Hobo-Beard mode. I still argue he doesn’t have a goat face, because goats don’t have massive beards that scraggly and awful, but something does need to be said to the guy. I’m sure he’s well aware how horrid it is, but good lord there IS a handsome man underneath there. I’m a pretty firm believer that you should only have a beard that huge and swarthy if you’re already an ugly bastard, a fat man, a biker, or a wizard. There’s a lumberjack clause is there too, but that’s kind of antiquated profession these days isn’t it? I’m actually not certain at all, I just imagine giant machines cut down all the trees now, but that’s neither here nor there. The best thing about this match is how damn good it was. People forget that despite all the gimmickry, both of these guys are excellent goddamned wrestlers, and Daniel Bryan is singlehandedly probably one of the best in the world. It was good to see Dolph Ziegler pull over a win and manage to still make Bryan look strong. It’s the kind of fast faced match that works really well for tv. I wish they had more like it.

So here’s the best thing about this, does anyone actually want to see Tensai wrestle around anymore anywhere? I’m glad he’s wearing pants and a singlet now, but it doesn’t make him not horrible and not  boring. I can’t get past how big and boring he is. Now I know i lament the lack of wrestling on this wrestling show, but comedy bits and whatnot, as long as they’re funny, I really have no problem with. The issue is often they’re not funny, and for now, Fandango coming out and refusing to wrestle stupid people (kofi, tensai, etc) because they don’t pronounce his name properly, entertains me all to hell. Plus Fandango coming out and flat out saying how Naomi is better than the stupid team she’s currently affiliated with, and the thought of her potentially joining Fandango’s crew of sexy flamenco dancers sounds great to me. Plus for the first time in years, Jerry Lawler really made me laugh by cursing out Tensai for ruining our chance to see Fandango wrestle.

Someone somewhere noticed that there wasn’t really a tag team division anymore, and realized they ought to reassemble Team Rhodes Scholars quickly. Having them come out and do a faux-intellectual version of the New Age Outlaw’s old introductory speech was actually pretty funny, mostly because Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow are still so likable. Those guys really do ooze class and charm. I have a hard time accepting them as bad guys at all, because they’ve never even done anything wrong. They’re only booed because other crowds boo them, and it feeds on an infinite loop. I’m just hoping all of this isn’t building to some stupid angle where the New Age Outlaws become the tag team champions again, because man does that devalue the Tag Titles even more. It’s more or less the same argument made for why The Rock shouldn’t be champion, but it goes double for NAO.

The problem with this too, is that Brock Lesnar came out and attacked them, you know because we need to be reminded of Brock Lesnar. I get they need to have him attack the NAO, and to have him accept their challenge, because this is what happens with every time Triple H and Brock Lesnar show up. Rather than settle everything, all threats, all challenges, etc with one promo between the two of them, they keep interacting on Raw by making long protracted speeches or segments. It’s almost like they’re using WWE as their own personal social media service because they’re both too shy to just talk things out like adults. The only thing I’m glad to hear is that Brock Lesnar will be making the stipulations of the match, and we can only hope it’ll be that Triple H has to quit forever for real or something. It doesn’t matter though, he’ll always find some way to come back and ruin everything. Let’s just let this be the end of Brock/Triple H forever, okay?

I guess if we have to have Kofi Kingston matches, they might as well be short non-matches like he’s been having recently. If you’re honestly complaining about not seeing enough Kofi Kingston lately, there’s something f***ing wrong with you.

Hey The Bellas are back! Let’s get first things first out-of-the-way, HOLY CRAP DID THEY BOTH GET TIT JOBS WHAT HAPPENED OH MY GOD HOLY F***  JESUS THEY LOOK AMAZING. I’m gonna wonder if they’re actually back or not, but until then let’s just marvel at them and hope they come back  as valets only. They could never wrestle but I sure did love seeing them in skin-tight plastic outfits, so if they’re in some super team with Rhodes Scholars I’m down with that.

Here’s the sad thing, I would totally mark out if somehow, someway Heath Slater beat The Ryback. I understand they’re building up the feud between Mark Henry and The Ryback, ostensibly over the title of the worlds strongest man, or something to that effect. Just have them both do dueling feats of strength each week, and one up each other. The Ryback lifts two guys, Mark Henry lifts two guys, The Ryback eats and devours Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry crushes Great Khali into a little ball of misery. That way everyone would win, and it’d end in a great match between two strong guys just beating the crap out of each other! Plus Khali and Kofi would be dead! WIN/WIN!

First and foremost, this was a pretty great match. Both of these guys are damned amazing in the ring, and watching them go at it was entertaining. My problem with this match is it only reinforces two ideas that are destroying the WWE’s mid-card, which is #1, that the World Heavyweight Championship is the new Intercontinental Championship, and that the IC title and the US title now both mean jack squat. When you have your mid-card champions just lose, all of the time, only win when they defend, and generally get beaten by a higher “class” of wrestler, (not just including the Invincible White Guys Cena, Sheamus, Orton et al), it just makes their title look meaningless. This isn’t me complaining about Cesaro losing, it’s about him losing making that title appear worthless. Cesaro can lose for sure, but have it lead into someone taking the belt from him, or have him get cheated or anything other than what they’re doing right now. If they were smart, they’d consolidate the WHC and the WWE belts, make the Intercontinental belt mean something again, and retire the US title. But they won’t, so whatever.

I feel like I should like this match more. I like Rhodes Scholars but sometimes their offense is just lacking. They’re wonderful on the mic, and I love their characters, but they’re not incredibly dynamic in the ring, and when you put them up against a terrible super-team like Orton and Sheamus the whole thing becomes a foregone conclusion to begin with. Maybe I just find Orton so boring that he ends up infecting the entire match with his boringness, and ruins the whole thing? I don’t know, I sure do love his pose though. Me and my friends make a point of doing it all the time. I’m hoping it’ll become the next fad like Planking. You walk up to your friend, you smack his hat off his head, then pose like Orton. It’s pretty great, but you better make sure you do it to a friend, or else you’ll get your ass beat half to death.

I love Jericho, I just wish he’d do something new with his hair. He keeps trying to spike it up or whatever it is that he does, and it just looks terrible. Dude, we all know you’re going bald, just kinda wet it down like how it gets after he sweats for a while. The problem with segments like this is they’re just big commercials for stupid things, and the stupid thing this time is The Miz’s new movie. Then you’ve got Wade Barrett coming out, and being NO NO NO YOU OYL OTTA KNOW OYM THE REAL SUPER MOOVEE STAH ERE! Which I suppose all things considered, is preferable to just some glad-handing nonsense about movies and hey here’s a clip. At least they’re arguing about it. I think the idea of wrestlers getting into arguments about whose the biggest movie star is pretty stupid, but it’s stupid in that good way that only wrestling can be.

I know this clip is about Miz VS Jericho but I just love it every time Wade Barrett talks, and would rather watch him talk about being awesome, and rejecting scripts and being british. I think out of everyone in the WWE, he’s the one i’d most like to have a beer with. Plus the segment was so bad that even Michael Cole said so. So that’s pretty telling.

Swagger’s just beating up any and all Mexican people now. This makes me laugh for all the wrong (right?) reasons? I’m loving this gimmick, I’m loving the feud that surrounds it, and I’m loving hating Zeb Colter and Swagger. They even got me to cheer to Sin CARE-UH! Which is saying a lot. Zeb Colter is great because he’s getting people to hate and boo racism, which for WWE audiences is damned progressive. Let’s continue this happening please?

There’s been a subplot the entire night throughout the show, showing Kane very upset about CM Punk’s disrespectful turn against Taker and Paul Bearer at the beginning of the show. It was actually pretty moving and managed to show Kane inject some pathos into his mourning, both kayfabe and shoot of the late Paul Bearer. The entire idea behind the match being No DQ was pretty great too, and was an excellent match between the two, because it allowed for this:

Raw

If there was any one person whose music could and should actually distract you during a match it’s The Undertaker’s. The match between Kane and Punk just goes to show how great they both are, and ended with a really awesome confrontation between Punk and Taker, where Punk managed to pull off that wonderful mix of disrespectful mock taunting he always does, and the whole thing looked like it really did piss Undertaker off. Initially I was worried their WM match wouldn’t have any real stakes, but thanks to Punk yet again, it does. I fully expect Undertaker to win, but if they REALLY want to get Punk over as a HATED heel, they’ll have him end the streak. Don’t make it a triumphant battle sort of thing, have it be a super cheap, super sh***y  thing where Punk gets the win through some terrible technicality. It’ll piss everyone in the world off but me.

For the first time in a while, I feel like tonight’s Raw wasn’t just an assembled collection of scenes with no rhyme or reason. Somehow someway, they turned a tragic thing like Paul Bearer’s death into a viable storytelling mechanic, and had a good yarn spun throughout the show, ending with a finale that wrapped up the whole thing. Sure there were a few stupid moments in the middle, but if Raw was more like this, it’d be just a bit easier to defend why I watch the damn thing. I also didn’t even realize until it was pointed out on twitter, that John Cena wasn’t on the entire show. Maybe that also has something to do with it.

Raw
20-1. I hope.
Raw
Anybody who’s watched the CM Punk documentary will get this.